The rants and raves of a teenage cinephile who is just a little bit obsessed with Catherine O'Hara and Hayao Miyazaki.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

"Mutiny on the Bounty" is a grandiose, Best-Picture-Winning epic from the golden age of cinema. It tells the (true!) story of the British ship The Bounty, which was on its way to Tahiti. On the ship is the dashing and confident Fletcher Christian (Clark Gable), the naive but charming Byam (Franchot Tone), their evil captain Bligh (Charles Laughton) and then a whole lot of swabbies. When Bligh gets out of hand in his soul-crushing discipline, it is up to Christian to lead a mutiny! Thus the title of the film.

The technical aspects of "Bounty" are quite brilliant. The epic shots of the boat rocking through the stormy weather, and the crew dealing with it, are unbelievable. There are also some extremely exciting and invigorating sequences, like right at the beginning of the movie when they're preparing to set sail. It's tightly edited and it's quite amazing, especially for 1935!

However, I had a really hard time truly enjoying this film. The three main characters, while perfectly likable, are irritatingly one-dimensional. Gable just has to be charming, and Laughton just has to be evil. They both do their jobs brilliantly, but the screenplay never gives them a chance to shine. I do feel like Tone transcended what he was given though and gave the most interesting performance of the three.

Also, once the Bounty gets to Tahiti...I don't know, I just wasn't feeling it! Tahiti was so shallow, all the islanders do is party all day, and then the Bounty guys lead on these lovely island women, who just totally fall head over heels for these random sailors who are just going to leave eventually anyway! I was absolutely not interested whatsoever in the unbearably long "romantic interlude". It was convincing, but a total waste of time and completely unrelated.

Oh and this is a petty comment, because it was obviously an audience/studio thing, but why did all the British people sound American? Haha.

But don't get me wrong, "Mutiny on the Bounty" is definitely not a bad film. I'm just being super harsh. Besides the ridiculous island scenes, it's actually pretty okay, and definitely worth seeing at least once in your life.

All in all, I really appreciated and enjoyed the technical aspects of this film, but the one-dimensional characters and unnecessarily emphasized romantic subplot made it hard to enjoy.



  1. You're spot in a lot of ways. Especially and the Tahiti scenes which were just downright silly.

  2. Most of the old movies have what we consider "silly" to our modern tastes. However, I hate it that they "villianize" Bligh, who in historical truth was not an evil captain, but a very competent military man--while Fletcher was more of a scoundrel who lacked discipline and Naval skill.


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